Monday, April 24, 2006

Reflections T1, 2006 (Emily)

I have come away from this term feeling less than satisfied with the blogging experience. I think there have been a number of contributing factors but I think the one that is probably concerning me the most was the lack of "buy in" by the students this term.

This term we used the blogs as an assessed part of their coursework/portfolio. This meant that much of the process was teacher driven - do this, do that - and I think the fact that it was assessed meant that the students didn't take ownership of their individual blogs. I am aware that there are a number of authors out there who completely disagree with assessing blogs and wouldn't be surprised with the above observations. In the past I have really enjoyed getting to know my students. Obviously I see them almost everyday and start to get to learn about their families, what they do, what they are interested in but with the blogs, in the past, students have often told me about things that don't usually come up in everyday classroom conversations.

Next term, term 2, I plan to again use blogs as part of their coursework but work hard on reminding students that it is their personal space. I also like Karen's idea of pictures and comments and might use pictures instead of questions when teaching students to comment in the hope that I get more language. I'm still very interested in how students "talk" through their blogs too and will keep an eye on the apparant awareness of a reading audience.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Reflection T1 2006

This term I wanted to use pictures more effectively on my blog. I decided to have a Picture Post for each week, where students had to comment with one sentence on a photo. At the end of the week someone (me, my family, my colleagues, a friend overseas, a student volunteer) would pick the comment or two that they liked best. This worked reasonably well, although some pictures generated more language than others. Hard though to generalise as to what made the picture successful. Discussing it in class helped in terms of vocab that they might use. As did class time in the lab to write (especially initially).

Students were happy to send me photos to put on so everyone could see (eg. of BBQ, of students who had left) and I also used more photos eg. of community events.

Students generally (in focus group discussion) seemed to realise that you could write about whatever you wanted on the blog, which was the other thing that I pushed. I tried to tie it in to the workbook and give suggestions. Noriko and Peter in particular, enjoyed writing about their experiences.

Areas to improve on next time
  • Get students to comment more
  • Teach them how to add photos/sound
  • Show them bloglines at the beginning of the term (I did at the end!)
  • Make sure they get comments on their blog emailed to them (settings)

One suggestion (Peter) was that they all have access to the class blog to write on, which was exactly what I wanted to do, but felt that we didn't have enough time. Also there needed to be a purpose - task related and I felt that they were overburdened with coursework as it was.

Maybe next term - a wiki where they can write comments about how they feel and what they have learned over the term in relation to the project. Or would this go better on a blog?